Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Escape Room

Today in our school system, we had an annual Innovation Day!
From K-12, all of the children choose activities that they would like to do from a list of offered.  These courses mix a little education, a little culture, a little innovation, with a LOT of interest.  Most of the time the children don't get to participate in all top pick activities but they usually get one or two of their favorites.

Carlee got to do-  Yoga, Move and Motion, and Music.  
Other than her schedule being different, I think she had a great time.  

Another teacher took this picture for me.  
Look at those fancy shoes she got to wear for a special half-day (not everyday shoes for sure).  

Connor got to-  play the Ukelele, "Hands On" Social Studies, and Crossfit.  

He is the little blond with the black shirt.
He wasn't looking forward to two choices because he didn't pick them (just Crossfit) but he ended up loving the social studies activity the most.   That is the one he dreaded and the one he thought was the most interesting.  That is what Innovation Day is all about.  

This year, I was really honored to join Mrs. S. in creating the Escape Room(s).  I understand that even my friends at the primary school made an Escape Room.  
This is quite the popular activity these days.  Connor really wanted to do it but I told him that his time will come.  (I've actually thought of doing a little academic Escape Room idea with a few of my teachers, wouldn't that be awesome?) 

Mrs. S. did an amazing job of taking the lead- color coding, supplying, and making everything so neat and organized!  

For Today's Challenge- 
the children had 30-35 minutes to crack 5 codes before "Escaping the Room" and winning a Tootsie Pop!  
I found this great music on youtube and it really set the mood.  

Our activities included:
-Scytale Message  (align the letters, then use the special light to discover the pink letters to unlock the number code)

-UV Puzzle message (work a 65 piece US Puzzle then shine the UV light to discover the message/ special letters crack the code)

-QR Problem Solving (use an iPad solve the series of math problems that will lead you to the next challenge)

- Figurative Language (highlight the 'figurative language', then answer the below questions to decode the next 5 numbers....)

-Calculator Riddles- (ie. What can you find at the beach?  577345)

Once the children understood (with a bit of support) most were able to ESCAPE the room!  

I thought everyone rocked it.
Enjoy our Escape Room moments....

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Gold is #1. Projects with Tweens is # 2.

There is nothing I love more than a good project.  
Too bad most people don't share my love.

Part of Middle School definitely means time management.  Between the social, sports, tests, homework, online assignments, and projects,  children need to start to develop a system that works for them to keep up with it all. 

That is why when Connor was given his first independent project with a rubric and two weeks to complete, we totally butted heads.    

He thought this was acceptable (one page).

I even tried to get B. on my side.  I read the rubric and asked his friend B. if this was acceptable at his school.  B. said 'its what I would do and I won't make him do more'.
😃  Thanks B.  Thanks.  (don't ask two boys who stick together)

Sometimes as parents, we forget that it is our job to teach children how to manage their time.  
I started with reviewing the very specific rubric with Connor until it made sense.  He was to research an element from the periodic table, create a creative sales product (video, poster, item) with color and a slogan, it had to include specific research questions, and a presentation.

I wanted Connor to make a video commercial since he is so good with videos but now that he is in middle school, he wants ZERO attention towards himself.  I just hate it so much because he is funny and this would be a great time to show his personality.    He was even distraught because a friend told him his element (AU/ Gold) was a 'stupid pick'.  How in the world can you make young person not care about stuff like that?  (sigh)  Luckily the day of the project, I learned his friend K. was doing gold and that made it all better.  

We decided a report format in the form of a magazine would be the "least embarrassing" and allowed creativity.   I outlined a Table of Contents containing rubric guidelines, and Connor did one page a day, until complete. 

page 3

Y'all know I love being creative, so the first thing I found was a Solid Gold App.
Now if this isn't cool I don't know what is??
Sunglasses, a Gold grill, chains.....

if Justin Bieber can pull it off, so can I in the name of Science!!

Darren had the good idea for Connor to wear his Golden State Warrior jersey for the cover (& Connor did wear it on the day of the presentation).  #gold

Next, I helped Connor pick a slogan.  First, I had to explain what a slogan was and then I had to PROVE it was in the rubric and not something I was making up because I have all the time in the world.
This was the slogan drawing board:
-A….U… you stole my Gold!
-What’s cooler than the Element Gold??
-Hey you, come buy some AU!
-Get Your Gold Grill On
-Be Bold, Be Gold
-AU?  Can you Dig It?
-Goldust:  "Remember the element…GOLDUST"  *inhales deeply*…GOLDUST!"
for science?
-You might be a teacher if you noticed that AU is also the abbreviation for Autism (and I noted it is beside element PT- physical therapy).   What is more awesome than AU?  Nothing!!!

-Connor decided on "Gold is #1" and I tweaked it to 
"Gold:  It's Always in First Place"  
[I totally have control issues.]

I made a magazine cover for Connor while he wrote up some research.

To make a long story short:
him:  it is embarrassing.  it is awful. I'm not doing it.
me:  then come up with something.  I'm not helping you for my health.  quit being a big whiny baby.
 How about a THANK YOU??  Some Gratitude!?!

Connor toned down the cover a bit.    (Even Darren said the sunglasses were too much, but Justin Bieber disagrees.)

His Cover:

Like most kids, he was so worried about the presentation.  I made him practice, practice, practice.  I brought home some 'gold bars' because I said 'everyone will love it if you feed them'.
True Story
add a prayer and you have equation for success....

Connor never shared how it went, but his friends told me it all went well (and loved the cover). 

My New Slogan:
Gold is #1.
Project with Tweens is #2 Poo.

September Blessings

What a week this has been!   
It started with the terrible news that my friend's husband and classmate had passed away, then my knee just started randomly swelling on and off to the point I had to wobble up the halls (I know I need to go to the doctor), then midweek I met my teacher friends for a late night at the hospital to assist with a student (people have no idea the love of a teacher),  the day of the funeral Connor came down with strep,  and we had three tests and a project due this week.   If you add current world news and the worst massacre in US history,  you have one. bad. week.
random knee swelling
Needless to say, last night I laid on the couch, rented Wonder Woman, bought four songs off of iTunes, and when that alarm sounded off this morning, I hit snoozed and rolled over.   Before I start my full day, I've decided to lounge and share my September Blessings to replenish my spirt.  

My baby boy turned a year older:

With all of our changes and schedules this month, we kept the celebration low key with family:

I let Carlee pick out a game for Connor (with lots of guidance) of course.

We had his favorite dinner (shrimp and steak).

And the most exciting gift from the grands-  a phone!

We love you Connor.  You are the best part of all of us and I'm so proud of what an awesome dude you are in this crazy world.  
Happy Birthday

We finally got (a badly needed) new kitchen table.  It came with four chairs but we moved two of them downstairs and added the bench.  I love the bench.

 I can't believe how much I like working in Middle School.

My middle school babies are so awesome.
As a whole, we are pushing these students to grow and be more responsible, but I find they still need lots of support and nurturing (which happens to be my favorite).  

my math skills are reaching past counting to 30

This. Girl.
I love every minute of every day with her.

This was our first Roller Derby Party.   
It was so sweet.  
We can't wait to go skating again.

This child sure has come far from the girl who cried over every. single. thing.
ie.  Like I can't reach this chicken nugget. 

Football Season -
Supporting a BFF

Some things remain the same, like friendships and making up games that get water EVERYWHERE.

Milkshake Mania
We finally decided to go to the Burger Batch for the WORLD Famous Milkshakes.

sharing with daddy

I found the service to be bad, the space to be small/ loud, the novelty shakes to be overpriced, and the food 'eh'.
That is my grand review but the shakes do make a pretty picture:

Cars & Bowling 

I know the boy trend now is long soccer socks with basketball shorts, but with bowling shoes.......

Carlee did NOT play around with the bowling ball.

We had a great time, but little D. and I were terrible.  
We even tried trading the lucky hamburger hat for a better score but it did not help us one bit.
(I take that back- it helped us look cooler.)  

Mrs. S.'s Baby Gender Party-
Gender Reveal Parties were not the thing when I had my children but they sure are a lot of fun.

Sadly, we didn't get to wait for the gender gun to shoot (because the kids were scared of the noise) but Connor and Carlee were right, Mrs. S is having a GIRL!!  whoooooooooo.

Thank you God for all the many blessings, and I pray that we all take the time to praise you in good times and bad.